Student stories

Growing a passion for environmental policy through sustainable farming

Jimena Bisso Carrillo

Earthwise Society

“Since I was young, I dreamed of being a veterinarian and being able to help animals heal,” Jimena says. “But as I great older, I realized that I not only wanted to explicitly help animals, but also their ecosystem."

Third-year environmental studies and political sciences student Jimena Bisso Carrillo knew she wanted to gain hands-on experience during her degree as soon as she heard about the co-op program in her first year. The decision paid off, as she spent summer 2021working with Earthwise Society, following her passion for ecosystem preservation.

“Since I was young, I dreamed of being a veterinarian and being able to help animals heal,” Jimena says. “But as I great older, I realized that I not only wanted to explicitly help animals, but also their ecosystem. The habitat that surrounds them is a vital and necessary space for the development of species and I could not believe it was disappearing so quickly.”

Jimena’s lifelong love for animals led her to the Environmental Studies Program, and to her position with Earthwise Society.

Born in Lima, Peru, Jimena found her education prepared her for environmental work in Canada, as she became familiar with British Columbia's environment and diverse ecosystems in her courses, particularly ethnoecology. And the co-op program helped her navigate her first job in Canada, from developing a résumé and interview preparation to travel and quarantine logistics.

“Before coming to Canada, I was not aware of all the biodiversity that was present in British Columbia,” she says. “In my co-op role, I worked to grow food in sustainable ways without using any pesticides. Learning about ethnoecology made me realize how important the knowledge of Indigenous people is to preserve native species in BC.”

In a project that involved ongoing removal of invasive Himalayan balsam and blackberry, Jimena put her classroom knowledge into action. “Almost everything that I did at this job was new for me,” Jimena says, “from farming to trail maintenance”. Coordinating trail development, habitat restoration, field preparation and maintenance, she blended administrative skills with outdoor work.

“It allowed me to be more confident in relation to being in contact with nature, the soil, and the species around me,” she explains.

Moving forward, Jimena hopes to continue pursuing her passion for the environment by securing work experience related to her major in political science. She sees policy development and international cooperation as crucial to positive environmental action.

“I was able to learn first-hand,” Jimena says of her time with Earthwise Society. “I focused on continuous learning. I always thought that I would work indoors, in a desk position, but this work term changed my point of view."

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